If you are thinking of pursuing a military career, you will have to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, commonly known as the ASVAB test. It is an assessment developed by the United States’ Department of Defense and a prerequisite for all candidates planning on enlisting.
The test is designed to assess a person’s profile to determine what job within the Armed Forces (if any) best suits their profile and skills. The ASVAB is used only for enlistment purposes, and you cannot re-take the test once you are actively serving. In other words, your ASVAB score will remain your score throughout your entire career within the military.
Throughout this article, we will examine useful information regarding the ASVAB test to prepare you for the evaluation.
The ASVAB Test
As we mentioned before, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test or ASVAB test is an assessment designed for the United States Armed Forces and developed by the Department of Defense. It was first introduced in 1968, and four years later, it was deemed obligatory for all military branches.
Technically speaking, there are two versions of the ASVAB test. There is the ASVAB conducted at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), which is used for recruitment. And there is also the student testing program commonly referred to as the ASVAB Career Exploration Program (CEP), which is conducted in different institutions such as high schools, colleges, and correctional facilities as a means for career exploration. Nonetheless, when people speak of the ASVAB test, they are usually referencing the evaluation used for recruitment purposes.
The ASVAB test was designed to assess an individual’s skills and personality to determine whether they are qualified for enlistment. It is a multiple-choice question test and usually takes between one and a half hours to three hours to complete. The ASVAB can be administered in two different formats:
The computerized ASVAB is also known as the CAT-ASVAB. It is an adaptive evaluation where the computer software chooses suitable items for you based on your responses to earlier questions that appeared in the test. So, given that the CAT-ASVAB “changes” based on your ability level, it usually takes less time to complete. The average exam-taker takes about one and a half hours to finish the CAT-ASVAB.
Paper and Pencil ASVAB
The paper and pencil ASVAB is commonly known as the P&P-ASVAB, is a traditional test where all candidates have the same questions in the same order and must finish each section at the same pace. Meaning that you cannot go back or advance to another section if you are not instructed to do so.
The P&P-ASVAB usually takes three hours to complete, and there is no guessing penalty.
Nonetheless, note that the test is the same; the only thing that varies is the format and the order in which the questions appear. Thus, the odds are that you will receive the same (or at least a similar) score regardless of whether you take the CAT-ASVAB test or the P&P-ASVAB test.
Plus, no matter the format you choose, the test is entirely free, which means that the military does not charge a fee for candidates to take the ASVAB test. So, choose the format and center where you feel most comfortable.
Sections of the ASVAB
The ASVAB test evaluates candidates on four primary categories, including Science/Technical, Verbal, Math, and Spatial. However, these broad categories can also be divided into sections or subjects as follows:
- Arithmetic Reasoning – evaluates the ability to solve basic arithmetic problems
- Mathematics Knowledge – assesses mathematical skills and problem-solving abilities
- General Science – assesses the knowledge of natural science, earth and space, and physics.
- Electronics Information – measures understanding of circuits, electrical currents, electronic systems, and more.
- Auto Information – covers automotive maintenance and repairs
- Shop Information – evaluates wood and metal shop practices
- Mechanical Comprehension – assesses the knowledge of structural support, materials’ properties, and mechanical devices’ principles.
- Word Knowledge – covers the meaning and comprehension of words through synonyms and antonyms
- Paragraph Comprehension – measures the ability to understand written materials effectively
- Assembling Objects – measures the skills of spatial relationships
The score obtained on each of these sections will determine a candidate’s suitability for specific posts within the military. Meaning that depending on how low (or high) a candidate’s scores on each sub-test, he/she will qualify for one (or more) military jobs ranging from Clerical and Surveillance/Communications to Combat and Field Artillery.
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Understanding Your AFQT Score
Two different scores arise from an ASVAB test. The AFQT scores determine a person’s eligibility for enlistment in the Armed Forces, and the general ASVAB test score, as we explained above, determines the best job for a specific person within the military.
Hence, having a good AFQT score is, without a doubt, vital if you want to pursue a career within the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Navy. It is given by four main sections, including Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge.
The minimum passing AFQT score is usually 31 points out of 99 is you have a high-school diploma, and 50 if the candidate is a GED holder.
Nonetheless, each branch of the military might require a specific minimum score. The Air Force, for example, requires at least 36 points.
Lastly, it is essential to note that AFQT scores are based on youth population norms for males and females aged 18-23 — meaning that your AFQT score reflects your ranking compared to individuals within this specific age group. Therefore, if you have a score of 65, it means that you scored higher than 65% of the applicants.
Do you need a recruiter to take the ASVAB? Learn more here: https://civilservicehq.com/can-you-take-the-asvab-without-a-recruiter/
How to re-take the ASVAB?
Before enlistment, a candidate can take the ASVAB test virtually as many times as he/she wants. But, keep in mind that specific rules might apply. For instance, you must wait at least one month to re-take the evaluation after your first try. If you wish to take it again after that, you need to wait an additional month. And after your third try, you are obliged to wait six calendar months to re-take the ASVAB test.
So, even if you pass the ASVAB test, you can re-take the assessment as some positions require very high scores. Therefore, it is always advisable that if you are interested in a specific job within the Armed Forces, you will obtain the minimum passing score for that branch (or position) in particular. If you are unsure of the minimum required score for a specific job, you can consult a military recruiter or visit an official website.
However, consider that what you score on your last test will be considered your final score. In other words, if you took the ASVAB once and then decided to re-take the test (but got a worse score), the score on your second test will be your final score.
Also, keep in mind that ASVAB scores are only valid for two years. After that, you must re-take the evaluation if you wish to enlist in the army. This rule also applies if you took the ASVAB test at your high school or community college.
Finally, keep in mind that all tests taken by candidates younger than 17 years old will not be eligible for recruitment purposes as the United States Armed forces required candidates to be at least 17 years old of age.
Below other frequently asked questions related to the ASVAB test can be useful when preparing for the exam:
How to re-take the ASVAB while in active duty?
You cannot re-take the ASVAB while enlisted. Your ASVAB score will remain your score throughout your entire service within the Armed Forces. You can, however, re-take the test multiple times before enlistment.
Can you take the ASVAB in Spanish?
No. The ASVAB is only available in the English language. Why? Simple. All military technical manuals, operation orders, and service regulations are written in English. Thus, you must be proficient in the language to comply with all your duties and effectively perform your tasks within the force.
Additionally know, that if English is not your first language, you might also be required to take the English Comprehension Level Test (ECL). The ECL is a standardized evaluation that assesses a person’s listening, writing, and reading comprehension skills of the English language.
If I take the ASVAB test, do I have to join the military?
No. Taking the ASVAB test does not commit you to anything. Technically speaking, the ASVAB can help you determine your interests and aptitudes even if you do not intend to enter the military or are unsure whether it will be a good career choice for you.
Thus, if you have the slightest doubt about whether or not you wish to enlist, it is advisable that you take the test. Because there is really nothing to lose!
To learn more on how to pass the ASVAB exam click here!
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
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